Frazier finds authority ‘satisfying'

Leslie Frazier is a picture of quiet confidence this week at the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala. There is a lot of work to do in reshaping the Vikings roster, but he finds his new decision-making role ‘satisfying' and isn't intimidated that the buck stops with him.

Leslie Frazier rarely looks out of place or uncomfortable.

Sitting on the top row of bleachers, reclining back against the outer walls of the press box at Ladd-Peebles Stadium in Mobile, Ala., it's no different. He's as comfortable as a broken-in pair of jeans and looking every bit the part of an NFL coach fully in control.

Next to him is Mike Singletary, his friend for the last three decades, his teammate on the 1985 Super Bowl-champion Chicago Bears, on one side. On the other is vice president of player personnel Rick Spielman.

Both will be key figures in Frazier's future in Minnesota. When it comes to decisions on who to draft, who to acquire in free agency and who to let go, Spielman will be a central figure as he and Frazier collaborate on the personnel of the team going forward. When it comes to how to handle certain situations presented uniquely to head coaches, Singletary will be a Frazier confidante.

Frazier is less than one month into his foray as an NFL head coach, and his trip to Mobile, Ala. represents his first scouting trip in that position. His location is familiar as an NFL veteran of the coaching ranks, but the position he is in is both new and satisfying. The Minnesota Vikings' buck stops with Leslie Frazier, NFL head coach.

He's had input into many decisions made with the Vikings in the past, as Brad Childress' assistant head coach, but now he is the one receiving the input and making the final call on numerous decisions that will impact the franchise for years to come.

"Being an assistant head coach and the way it was for me, I was really involved in a lot of the things that we did as an assistant head coach. Probably the biggest transition is just having the final say in so many areas," Frazier said without a hint of trepidation. "People just want to know, what do you want to do? It's not like me giving a suggestion. When I say, ‘This is how we're doing it, that's probably the way we're going to be doing it.' That's probably the biggest adjustment, reminding myself it's the final word."

In what is likely the most uncertain offseason since Frazier hung up his helmet and put on his coaching cap, he will be the most public face of the franchise out in front of numerous decisions. There is the need to replace the starting quarterback. There is the need to quickly redirect the momentum of the on-field product from a last-place finish in the NFC North. There is the need to have a plan, a backup plan and another contingency plan in place for the numerous scenarios that could play out with the tenuous labor situation and the potential for drafting players before free agency hits.

But after a season of incomprehensible distractions and setbacks, both on and off the field, Frazier is the calming voice who seems to take quiet and humble and pleasure in being in this decision-making position after all these of years of being the supporting voice.

"It is a very satisfying feeling," Frazier said. "For the longest time you feel like you made some key decisions, but you have to stay within your role. But I feel like I'm prepared for this and I've got supreme confidence that I can do this and do it well. Yeah, it is satisfying."

Frazier doesn't have to make any big decisions at this week's Senior Bowl, but this is his first trip as a head coach. That means he has to take a critical look at quarterbacks, which he knows will be one of his most important decisions, and offensive lineman, which he admits is new scouting territory for him.

"It's a lot different because as a defensive coordinator or a position coach, you're looking at specific areas, whereas now we're looking at multiple positions on both sides of the football, including special teams. It's a lot different in that regard," he said.

Many things are different surrounding Frazier of late, including his title, but he remains calm and in charge, looking like the veteran decision-maker that led the Vikings through rough waters to end the 2010 season and prepared for the uncertainty of the 2011 offseason.


Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.

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